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Travel companies ‘broke law’ over hotel prices

OFT targets Booking.com, Expedia and IHG


Three travel companies have been accused by the Office of Fair Trading (OFT) of breaking competition law relating to price fixing.

Intercontinental Hotels Group, which operates chains including Holiday Inn and Holiday Inn Express, has been accused of restricting the discounts available to consumers.

Cheap hotel deals

In provisional findings of an investigation started in September 2010, the OFT said that the alleged behaviour of the three companies could limit price competition and stop other travel agents offering cheaper deals to consumers.

The investigation was launched after a small online travel agent called Skoosh.com complained that various hotel chains were preventing it from offering discount prices for room-only hotel accommodation.

Hotel price fixing ‘widespread’

The OFT concentrated on the three companies because IHG is the biggest international hotel company in terms of hotel numbers, and Booking.com and Expedia are two of the largest online travel agents in the UK.

However, it said the alleged practices were ‘potentially widespread’ in the travel industry.

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